Small Business Spotlight: Qui Solutions Unlocks the Potential Behind BIPOC and Woman-owned Businesses

Tequila Cooper-Shabazz (center) with Qui Solutions’ “Leadership Circle.”

Qui Solutions – a global member-based remote staffing and consulting agency – wasn’t TeQuila Cooper-Shabazz’s first attempt at building a business. 

In fact, she had spent seven years building two different companies before ultimately launching Qui Solutions in December 2018. 

While the first was short-lived, the second – BRIJ Fund, a cooperative investment group that focused on economic development in the African American community – achieved quite a bit of success, so much so that she found herself dedicating most of her time to it. 

And while she was certainly aiming for success when starting BRIJ, it came with some unexpected difficulties. 

“BRIJ had a huge social impact, and I was really proud of what we were doing, but unfortunately we weren’t making much money,” said Cooper-Shabazz. “I needed to find something to support me financially while I was doing BRIJ.” 

With the goal of making some money to feed herself while she continued to build BRIJ, Cooper-Shabazz brainstormed what to do next. She thought back to her life before entrepreneurship, when she had a very successful career in sales, and began with that.

“I started with what I knew – sales and operations,” said Cooper-Shabazz. “I started reaching out to people and offered my expertise to support them virtually.”

She signed her first contract in December of 2018. And while getting a customer is celebration enough, this particular client proved to be instrumental in Cooper-Shabazz’s, and Qui Solutions’, future.

“My first client was a dream client – she was a seven-figure, high-achieving, Black woman life coach,” said Cooper-Shabazz. 

With the contract, however, came a caveat. 

“She was really focused on mentorship and said that if I was going to work for her, I would have to attend a professional development conference, of which I had to pay for,” Cooper-Shabazz continued. “I was apprehensive to attend training because I had never invested any money in myself, let alone $750. But, I’m so glad I went because it taught me a valuable lesson about investing in myself. From that day forward, I have invested thousands of dollars in coaching and teaching programs.” 

From there, Cooper-Shabazz started building out Qui Solutions. She began hiring additional people and evolved Qui Solutions into an agency. As the team grew, their list of clients grew as well. 

As of this year, the team has brought on nearly 200 QuiVAs – what Qui Solutions calls their virtual assistants (VAs) – from around the world who are assisting over 300 businesses. And while the numbers are impressive, it’s who makes up those numbers that is really defining Qui Solutions’ impact.  

Most of our clients are high-achieving Black women and most of our QuiVAs are Black women as well,” said Cooper-Shabazz. “This is very unique for the virtual assistant space, as it’s usually an area that Black women are left out of.”

Qui Solutions has evolved over the years, honing its support into specific parts of business. Currently, they provide strategic expertise in operations, workflow, automating, process mapping, and remote staffing. 

Much of Qui Solutions’ success has to do with the thorough vetting process for both QuiVAs and clients. 

For QuiVAs, there is a four-week period that includes multiple rounds of tests and interviews, which culminates in a week-long onboarding period. After passing each of these stages, they are welcomed as part of the community. 

Clients go through a deep vetting process as well which includes discovery calls to learn about their needs, long-term goals, and growth plans.

Always focused on self-improvement, Cooper-Shabazz was introduced to the Polsky Center in 2022 after learning about the Small Business Growth Program. After learning how it helps small businesses scale, she applied to be a part of it and was accepted into the program. 

“The program was helpful in many ways, but the big thing I got out of it was to focus on our marketing efforts,” said Cooper-Shabazz. “Our business was always word of mouth, but following the program, I was able to build a strategic marketing plan focused on website development and SEO. The lessons I learned from the program are key components of our strategic plan today.”

Qui Solutions is now also part of the Small Business Financial Fundamentals program, which leads entrepreneurs to refine their financial reporting, create financial projections, increase knowledge on access to capital, build business credit, and manage business finances. 

“After experiencing the quality of the Small Business Growth Program, I knew I wanted to be a part of financial fundamentals as well,” said Cooper-Shabazz. “To be offered this level of support at no charge is amazing and I tell everyone I know to be a part of it if they’re looking to start a business.”

This all started as a way for Cooper-Shabazz to get some money to feed herself. So, did she achieve her goal?

“Luckily with Qui I can feed myself, and many others, just fine,” said Cooper-Shabazz with a laugh. 

Follow Qui Solutions on Instagram @QuiSupportSolutions and Facebook @QuiSupportSolutions.

The Small Business Spotlight series highlights South and West side business that have taken part in the Polsky Exchange’s Small Business Growth Program. Learn more about these exceptional businesses.

Article by Darwin Minnis, associate director of media relations and external communications at the Polsky Center. Darwin has a passion for telling the stories of the people, products, and companies that are making a positive impact on their communities. Reach Darwin via email.

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